"I've never been a member of a box and have usually done all my training alone, teaching myself by watching others."
Daniel Hershey is not like most athletes. Inspired by the infamous Nasty Girls video back in 2009, he and a coworker trained for only three months before taking part in the Mid Atlantic Regional. Hershey is the first to admit that they “got stomped.”
“The following year, with a little more experience, I placed seventh in the Virginia Sectional and 21st at the Central East Regional," he says. "After that, my wife and I made a big move across the world to Japan and both competed in 2011 and most recently this year in the Asia Regional. I won the Asia Regional in 2011 and 43rd out of 49 competitors at the Games. Not stellar by any means, but considering the company, I wasn’t too down on the result.”
Climbing the rankings in quick succession might lead one to assume Hershey is a natural competitor but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Other than Division One collegiate soccer, the athlete has never really touched competitive sports, and is a self-taught CrossFitter. “I’ve never been a member of a box and have usually done all my training alone, teaching myself by watching others,” he says.
The personal trainer based at Misawa Air Base trains his clients in the morning and evening, fitting his own training time in between sessions.
When asked what he considers his strengths and weaknesses, Hershey offers a modest reply. “I feel I’m average at most elements, I don’t have any one thing that I’m really good at or really bad at – I don’t think,” he says.
Considering he is competing in a sport whose specialty is not specializing, this is not such a bad thing. This broad, general and inclusive fitness that Hershey has tapped into was evident during the Asia Regional. “I felt I was ready for all the elements,” he says.
The athlete displayed a consistent performance at Regionals. He never raced ahead or fell behind significantly in any one workout. He placed first in two of the six events and these two wins combined with a steady performance in the other four gave him that single space in L.A., reserved for Asia’s top male competitor.
Taking the top spot for Event 4 took the athlete by surprise. “I knew that [Event 2] would be one of my better events as I enjoy rowing and heavy cleans," he says. "I thought the fourth would be my worst, but went in with a plan to break up the squats from the very beginning and it worked out well for me."
Although many competitors prepared by attempting the workouts prior to the competition, Hershey avoided practicing the workouts. He instead focused on the skills required to complete them. “Ultimately I wanted to win the Regional and get back to the Games,” he says.
Hershey’s strategy did not fail him.
“As for preparing for the Games, I’m doing a little more skill work, less direct strength work, more running and swimming and trying to incorporate things that haven’t come up this year. I would like to see a long a run or some sort of endurance type event ... followed up by a Strongman event. I think that would be fun. Maybe cut down a tree and carry it.”
With the incorporation of the triathlon and the heavy medicine ball carry on Friday, Hershey will be well-prepared.